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July 2009

Game of the Year

Posted on July 30, 2009 at 8:07 AM
Last night, as I'm listening to the UCB Radio Hour and visiting sites around the web, I noticed that one of my Facebook friends (and fellow mods at CardsClubhouse) said something about this being "the game of the year" in his status.

And that was before the Cardinals pulled it out.

Needing a win since the Cubs had already won.  Tying the game with two outs in the ninth.  Retying the game in the 11th.  Throwing out a runner at home in the 12th.  Winning it in the 15th.  This game had it all and will be a tough one to top for the rest of the season.

Hard to narrow it down to just one Hero, but I think I'll go ahead and give it to Ryan Ludwick.  Sure, he led to the Dodgers only run in regulation, but his single in the ninth led to Colby Rasmus being able to tie the game.  He tied the game himself in the 11th, then threw out Manny Ramirez at the plate in the 12th.  All in all, it goes in the credit side of the ledger for him.

Also good to see Albert Pujols getting an extra base hit.  With three hits last night, including the game winner, it's possible that he's starting to come out of his most recent slump.  He still had a couple of at-bats that weren't typical Albert, but if this team is clicking even without him, just imagine when he's on a tear.

Gotta love what Joel Pineiro is doing this year.  Rasmus got him off the hook so he didn't get an undeserved loss.  Eight innings of one-run ball should win you a lot of games, but in this one he's almost a forgotten man.  Having him line up behind Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright in a playoff series, though, will not be a problem for Cardinal fans like it would have been last year.

Major kudos to Blake Hawksworth as well, who earned his first major league win with three shutout innings.  I think a lot of people, even before last night's outing, were interested to see what he'd do with that fifth slot in the rotation.  Last night pretty much cemented that impression for me.  I know that Mitchell Boggs is getting the call for Friday, but if that doesn't work I'd like to see them think about Hawksworth.

In such a well-played game, the Goat tag is hard to apply.  Without the rally, Ludwick probably would have gotten it for misplaying the ball hit by Casey Blake.  I really wanted to give it to Joe Thurston for missing first base on that "double" in the 12th, but since the Cardinals won it's basically a footnote.  So I guess I'll go with Nick Stavinhoa, who with Yadier Molina were the only starters not to get a hit, but Molina did draw two walks.

Cards go for the sweep tonight, which would likely send a message to the rest of the league.  Kyle Lohse goes against Hiroki Kuroda.  Lohse has had trouble with the Dodgers in the past, but so had Pineiro before last night's outing.  He'll really have to try to corral Manny, who has hit two homers and has a .417 average against him.  Manny's been held down this series, so you hope you can do it for another night and let him blow up over the weekend.  Kuroda hasn't faced the Cardinals, so only Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday have seen him.  Holliday's liked it, though, hitting .455 with two doubles against him.

A sweep keeps the Cardinals in first as they welcome in a beat up Houston team.  The second half surge is ready to go!

You Can Only Hope To Contain Them

Posted on July 29, 2009 at 8:28 AM
For a while, it looked like the Dodgers were going to be able to tame the new-look Cardinals.

Then the sixth inning rolled around.

This offense is definitely a different animal than the Cardinal offense we saw in May and June, especially.  This is the first time this year that they've gotten serious in four out of five games.  (There was a stretch in April where they had three straight games.)  They've already rallied from three runs down once since the Holliday trade (though they blew that comeback), something they were only able to do three times beforehand.  At least for the moment, you don't feel the game is over if the Cards get down early.

The other thing about this offense is that it is so spread out.  The Cards scored 10 runs last night, but nobody had an overwhelming night in the box score.  Mark DeRosa did well, crushing a three-run homer late, and Yadier Molina had a couple of hits and a couple of RBI, but it was the grinding of at-bats, the piling on of hit after hit, that makes the offense so devestating.

Which means that, with no dominant offensive performance, you have to give the Hero tag to Adam Wainwright for his eight scoreless innings.  He didn't necessarily blow past the Dodgers, but was able to contain things and make the pitches when he needed to.  It's been great fun watching him and Chris Carpenter go on back to back nights, hasn't it?  And with the way Joel Pineiro has been throwing, it's three straight days of strong pitching.

On the flip side, it was a tough return to the lineup for Colby Rasmus.  No hits in three at bats and left one one.  At least he was able to score a run, so the night wasn't a complete wash.  Hopefully that heel will continue to improve, especially since Rick Ankiel is now down with a groin issue.

A couple of different prognosis for the rehabbing major leaguers in the minors.  On the up side, Khalil Greene is apparently about ready to return.  I'm sure there is no rush on the big league squad's part this time, what will the reinforcements already acquired, and Greene won't be any more than a utility guy.  Hopefully that'll work for him and get him playing again without a lot of the stress and mental anguish he was under.

On the flip side of that, Troy Glaus is going to have his back looked at.  This surely doesn't help the odds of him getting traded this week, though obviously he'll slide through waivers and be able to be traded in August.  But what can you get for a guy that'll only give another team six weeks?

The Cards moved into first place last night and look to keep it, as well as win the series, against the Dodgers tonight.  It's going to be a tall order, though, because the Dodgers are sending out Clayton Kershaw.  A lot of this team hasn't seen Kershaw, though Matt Holliday has done all right against him in the past.  Kershaw's had a strong July, though, and could test this new offense.

St. Louis sends out Pineiro to keep the run going.  Pineiro has struggled mightily with these Dodger hitters before, though.  The team is hitting over .350 against him, with Manny Ramirez leading the way with a .448 mark and 4 home runs.  We'll have to see if his new approach will continue to be successful.

Don't forget that the UCB Radio Hour is tonight!  A couple of new voices, Ben from Cardinal Twist and Bleacher Report and Dustin from Whiteyball, will be leading the discussion.  Call in and give them something to talk about!  Also, during the game, Fox Sports Midwest is having their live blog again right over here, so check that out as well.

Cardinals Enjoy Their Homecoming

Posted on July 28, 2009 at 8:23 AM
No matter the long term ramifications of John Mozeliak's machinations, one thing seems to be clear.

These guys can hit.

The Cardinals got serious for the third time in four games, reminding people of the heady days of April when the offense could actually put up runs with regularity.  Look at this breakdown of when the Cardinals have scored six or more runs:

April: 10 times in 23 games
May: 5 times in 27 games
June: 6 times in 29 games
July: 7 times in 23 games

While the new guys got a lot of the noise and accolades, the Hero tag should go to Brendan Ryan, for some smooth defense as well as a nice 4-4 night.  Ryan's got to step up his game with Julio Lugo in town now, so seeing that was a good thing.  Of course, let's not get carried away.  I don't think anyone is going to be confusing him with Ozzie Smith.  Oh, wait.....

Of course, it's not like you need a whole lot of offense with Chris Carpenter on the mound. I'm pretty sure few Cardinal fans dared hope that this Chris Carpenter would be the one that returned to the team this year, but he's been everything you could hope for.  If this offense is able to carry the team into October, there's a good chance the pitching will help keep them there.

Rick Ankiel continues to pound the ball while Colby Rasmus sits with his heel injury.  Since the All-Star Game, Ankiel is hitting .419 with a slugging percentage of .742.  There are going to be some interesting decisions to make once Rasmus is healthy enough to get out on the field, which sounds like it should be today or tomorrow.

Ryan Ludwick would have to get the Goat label after an 0-4, 2 strikeout, 4 LOB night.  Some nights, it's just not your night and there's not much you can do about it.  Ludwick's bat has been on fire of late, though, so a bad night is not the worriesome thing it was earlier in the season.

It was a welcome thing when I read this morning that apparently Todd Wellemeyer is heading to the bullpen.  Granted, I'm not sure where you'll use him out there.  Will he be the mop up long man?  You won't bring him in to a game that is on the line, I don't think.  So we may not see a lot more of him, unless Mitchell Boggs, who is in line to take over the role, bombs a couple of times.

It was also interesting to see Mozeliak indicate we won't see any more of Troy Glaus.  Not that it is surprising, since we know there's no place he could play.  Even if he was able to play third right now, would you move Mark DeRosa off of that?  Where would you move him?  Granted, if Glaus was reasonably thought to be able to play third right now, the Holliday deal maybe doesn't get made, but as it stands there is no place for him save off the bench.

Glaus's rehab stint is up in the next few days.  Now, they can just not activate him, leaving him to sit around, or they can "find" another injury and disable him.  Hopefully, though, they can find someone that'd give up a mid-range prospect for him.  It was great having him on the team last year, but I'm still not completely sure that was a winning trade for Mozeliak.  Probably did get the win on it, but it may depend on how Scott Rolen finishes up the year.

Another great pitching matchup tonight, as Adam Wainwright takes on Chad Billingsley.  Wainwright has tolerable career numbers against the Dodgers, though he's not fooled Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin very much.  Billingsley is a welcome sight for new Cardinal Matt Holliday, who has three home runs off of him.  Otherwise, Billingsley has done OK against Redbird hitters, at least the ones that have faced him.

If you've got the time, The Victoria Times has been doing a "Position in the Spotlight" series and, for St. Louis, has focused on #3 hitters in Cardinal history.  Check it out.

Pitching, Anyone?

Posted on July 27, 2009 at 8:56 AM
While there's not a whole lot to take out of this weekend, at least the offense seems to be improved.  Not necessarily to the levels of Philadelphia, though, which may haunt us in October.  Quick recap:

Friday (8-1 win)
Hero: Matt Holliday.  Let's get the guy on the board straight off.  Just making the extra effort to play in the game after the deal was impressive enough, but four for five with a run and an RBI and a stolen base?  That's filling up the box score.

Goat: It's a tough call, because nobody had a real bad night.  I guess I'll go with Brendan Ryan, since he left four men on, though he did have a hit in his four at bats.

Notes: Nice to see the bats really working.  Rick Ankiel went three for four, Julio Lugo made his debut with a triple and a homer, and things were all well and good in Cardinal Nation.

Saturday (14-6 loss)
Hero: Rick Ankiel.  Whatever has gotten into Rick, I hope it sticks.  Not only did he go three for five with, at the time, the tiebreaking home run, he made a couple of spectacular catches, including one that robbed Jayson Werth of a home run.  He was the star of the game until the bottom of the sixth.

Goat: Jason Motte.  He and Josh Kinney proved that the bullpen is best in small doses.  With Kyle Lohse struggling through the first and not being able to go past four innings, the bullpen got overexposed in a big way.  Motte has got to figure out how to keep the gopher balls to a minimum.  Was there much surprise when Shane Victorino followed up Jimmy Rollins's grand slam with a homer of his own?

Notes: You know when Tony LaRussa saw Lohse have to leave early, he was wanting his 13th pitcher back. Especially when he knew who was supposed to start on Sunday.

Sunday (9-2 loss)
Hero: Mark DeRosa.  Two for four with a HR.  The new guys were all right this weekend.

Goat: Todd Wellemeyer.  As if the combination of him and Philly's lineup and ballpark weren't obviously explosive.  I'm really surprised he hung around and kept the team in the game as long as he did.

Notes: The Cubs take over first place.  This is not a good thing.

The Cardinals proved that they still are a little off of the level that the Phillies are at.  Of course, it could have been a different series if Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright had pitched, but it's not like the Cards faced Cole Hamels, either.  The upcoming series with the Dodgers at home will be another true test.

The farm system took another hit this weekend as Jess Todd was sent to Cleveland to finish the Mark DeRosa deal.  I indicated at the time that I had concerns about who was going to complete the trade and those worries were justified, apparently.  Todd's absence was sorely noted this weekend as the bullpen started imploding.  It does explain why Todd hadn't been promoted since the deal even with his stellar AAA season.  The Razorback in me really hates to see him go as well!

Needless to say, a farm system that had started rebuilding itself, positioning itself as a top 10 system, has been devastated in the past few weeks.  It's really gotten Future Redbirds a little glum, to no surprise.

With the Cardinals apparently in win-now mode, there is no reason or justification for letting Todd Wellemeyer have another start.  I'm not real convinced you can put him in the bullpen either.  I'd like to see some small move for a real fifth starter, but as much as the farm system has already given up, I can't believe there are too many more bullets there.  You don't need a fifth starter in the postseason, but as tight as the NL Central is, you sure may need a tolerable one to get there.

Blake Hawksworth made a quick return to the majors.  While I know he allowed a long ball as well yesterday, I don't think you'd have found many people that wouldn't have rather seen him start than Wellemeyer.  Apparently TLR has stated that Wellemeyer will get the ball for the first game in the Houston series.  I sincerely hope that's just a smokescreen.  You can't afford to hand a game to a team that, as of right now, is just a game or so behind you in the standings and could easily be ahead of you by time you meet.

Is it about time to say Albert is slumping again?  While he's still getting his hits here and there, he's not gone yard since the 17th.  We all know he reads this blog, so we'll see if he can stoke the fire tonight.

I was starting to wonder if this Holliday trade had cut Colby Rasmus out of the picture.  Some people wouldn't put it past Tony to play Ankiel ahead of Rasmus, even if it wasn't justified.  So I was at least partly relieved to hear that there was an injury issue involved instead.  Rasmus is doing better, but with Ankiel's reviving bat, it could become a tough call on who to play.  Rasmus should still get the majority of the time.

You have to figure the Cardinals are done dealing, really, unless they can get something for Troy Glaus.  With Holliday in left and him still not able to throw across the diamond, it's a tough situation for him.  He might be a nice bat off of the bench, especially if he replaces Joe Thurston, but could he stay sharp just getting pinch hitting appearances on a semi-regular basis?

You also have to guess, with Lugo around, we won't be seeing much more of Khalil Greene.  Though Brian Barden is still up, I believe, so I guess those two could swap spots.  Right now, though, the roster calculus is pretty set, especially if the team expands back to 13 pitchers.

Cardinals take on the first-place Dodgers in Busch starting tonight.  Four game set, the first on ESPN.  Chris Carpenter gets back on the mound facing Randy Wolf.  Carp's had good numbers against Los Angeles, holding them as a whole under .200.  Of course, Manny Ramirez has been able to solve Carpenter somewhat, tagging him for two home runs.

Wolf, on the other hand, hasn't been quite as stingy with the Cardinals.  While Pujols has never gone yard against him, he does own a .357 average against the starter.  Holliday has done OK against him as well, including a home run.

The Cards really have to make some hay at home.  They can't let the Cubs start to pull away, because if they get ahead and then get healthy, they may be uncatchable.  And that's an untenable position to be in.

Cardinals Get Holliday

Posted on July 24, 2009 at 2:10 PM
Well, Albert Pujols may read this blog, but obviously the front office doesn't.

If you haven't heard by now, you are probably living in a vacuum or really have a strange idea about where to turn to for your news, but Matt Holliday is a Cardinal and Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Petersen are A's.

It's enough to make you run through the five stages of grief.  I spent the morning sure it wasn't going to happen, very angry that it was actually going to happen, skipped over the bargaining and went straight to depressed that it had happened, and now am moving to the acceptance that it has happened and there's nothing we can do about it, so move on.

The price of Wallace was bad enough, but the other two as well, including probably one of our top pitching prospects?  For that, I was expecting that Oakland was paying the rest of Holliday's salary or at least had allowed for a window of negotiation where the Cards would work on locking down an extension.  Instead, the Cards just get back $1.5 million of the $6 million Holliday is earning the rest of the way.  Really?

According to Derrick Goold on Twitter, the organization is hoping to get him in and do the sell job that way, like they did with Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen.  There are three problems with that.

One, it's a different game nowadays.  I think it's harder to use that hometown discount/sea of red motivation than it was a few years back.

Two, Matt Holliday is a Scott Boras client, a client that Boras has indicated will see free agency.  None of the other guys were Boras players.

Three, the Cardinals gave up more in this trade than any of the other trades.  They are risking a lot on the fan base, a fan base that Tony LaRussa was at odds with just earlier this week.  

It just reminds me of Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: "I'm taking an awful risk, Vader.  This had better work."

So the Cardinals have again dealt with Oakland, after the majestic Mark Mulder trade that most Cardinal fans have yet to forget or forgive, even five years later.  (That happens when one of the guys you give away turns into a top 5 pitcher while the guy you get breaks down almost immediately.)  Perhaps, if this trade is going to be completely analogous to the earlier one, we should care more about losing Mortensen instead of Wallace.  The big prospect we gave up in the Mulder trade, Daric Barton, created much angst, but hasn't exactly set the world on fire.  If Haren hadn't blossomed, that'd have been a no-win deal.

What's done is done, though, so Cardinal fans have to pick themselves up and welcome Holliday into the fold.  For what it's worth, national writers think the Cards did OK for themselves and may have set themselves ahead for an October date.  Keith Law does make the point that he leaves the tougher AL and that should help some, though the idea that power fastballs "knock the bat out of his hand" doesn't make me feel great for postseason.

Tony LaRussa finally got his man.  We'll find out if it was worth the cost.

It's likely that Holliday will be in the lineup tonight, making me quite aggravated that events are going to conspire to keep me away from the TV tonight.  Looking forward to seeing him in Cardinal red this weekend and hopefully giving this offense the boost he was acquired for.

Cards Beat Nationals, Tie Mother Nature

Posted on July 24, 2009 at 8:01 AM
Sometimes the elements just won't be denied.

The Cardinals, playing a one game series in Washington to make up a rainout from early May, dodged the raindrops last night and sat through rain delays before giving up and taking the 4-1, six inning win.  At least Mother Nature doesn't have a line in the NL Central standings.

The Hero of the game has to be Adam Wainwright, getting credit for a complete game.  It was really big that he was able to come back after the first rain delay, making sure that his start wasn't wasted and that his bullpen wasn't taxed.

Another positive sight was Rick Ankiel smashing a home run.  There are least a few signs that maybe, just maybe, Ankiel is starting to come out of his season-long slump.  The last seven days have seen him put up a .286 average with a double and a home run.  Compare that to the seven before, where he hit .063.  Before this last "hot streak", his last extra base hit was June 28.  If his bat is returning for the stretch drive, that's a huge thing for the Cardinals.

Colby Rasmus gets the Goat tag for last night.  Zero for three with five left on is a tough night, especially out of the two hole.  At least the rain kept him from making it worse--he was at bat when the second rain delay was called.

This time of year, what happens off the field is sometimes more intriguing that the actual games.  Yesterday the rumor continued to persist that the Cards were close to trading Brett Wallace for Matt Holliday.  You know what I think of that.  Most everyone I have heard from was outraged by the idea.

Not so much Post-Dispatch columnist Brian Burwell, who advocates making the trade.  Burwell's contention is that Holliday makes the Cards almost a lock for the World Series.  I'm really not sure how you can figure that one out.  Holliday's not a top level hitter.  He's good, but he's not a person that can carry a team.  Burwell says don't worry about tomorrow, do it today.  Which is a darn good way to make sure that, when Albert Pujols's contract is up, the Cards are a middle division team that won't be able to resign him.

There's talk that the Cardinals want Oakland to pay Wallace's signing bonus.  (Is that repay to the Cards?  Surely he's already received it?)  There's also talk that this deal really isn't that close to happening, which makes me feel better.

Cards head to Philadelphia today.  Joel Pineiro goes for the 'Birds.  Pineiro hasn't faced the Phillies this year and hasn't faced them just a ton in his career.  They've held their own against the Cardinal hurler, though nobody has taken him yard.

J.A. Happ goes for the Phillies.  Happ has put together a very solid season for Philadelphia and, though he hasn't faced the Cardinals this year, he did pretty good against them in his one outing last year.  Could be another tough game for the Cardinals as they kick off this stretch against division leaders Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Just When You Want To Give The Front Office Credit

Posted on July 23, 2009 at 11:13 AM
Maybe this is just writer speculation.  Maybe it's Billy Beane trying to drive up the price for Matt Holliday amongst other teams.  Maybe it's a joke that's gone too far.

But this report that the Cardinals might be starting to consider sending Brett Wallace to Oakland for Halladay sends chills up my spine, so much so that you are getting a short blog post dealing with it.

Let's list out the reasons that this is a bad idea, shall we?

1) Matt Holliday is a Scott Boras free agent.  You aren't likely to get him to sign a nice, hometown discount extension.  You aren't likely to have smooth negotiations to get him to give up his shot at free agent riches.  You are likely to have the same hole in the offense after October that you do right now without the hope of a prospect coming up to fill it.

2) Matt Holliday isn't a game changer.  Holliday's a good player, don't get me wrong.  Under other circumstances, I'd love to have him in St. Louis.  Even with his recent hot streak, though, he's not an MVP candidate outside the confines of the Rocky Mountains.  He's a good, solid bat, one that could help but not necessarily carry the offense.  I don't know that putting him instead of Ryan Ludwick (especially with Ludwick's resurgence) makes teams more likely to pitch to Albert Pujols instead of walking him.  You don't trade your top guy for a nice player.  You trade your top guy for someone that you are as close to 100% as possible will make a major difference.

3) You could get the same offensive boost, perhaps, in just promoting Wallace.  Tony LaRussa seems to want Mark DeRosa at third, fine.  Put Wallace in left field.  We've dealt with Chris Duncan's defense out there for so long, I think we could tolerate Wallace's, especially if he starts contributing offensively.  If he gets really bad, move DeRosa out there and him back to third.  I know he's no great shakes there either, but you've got the option.

4) It's Billy Beane.  Have we learned nothing from the Mark Mulder trade?  Beane may have lost a little bit of his invincibility aura, but he's still got the reputation.  And while Daric Barton, the big time prospect in the Mulder trade, didn't pan out as expected, I think we still would rate that deal as a loss, right?  Do you really want to see Wallace dominate the AL for 5 years for two months of above-average production from Holliday?

5) Pitching is more pressing.  There are a lot of options in the offense. Ludwick is in good form again.  Pujols is Pujols.  Colby Rasmus is becoming a dependable bat.  DeRosa is chipping in.  You have the new acquisition of Julio Lugo, seeing what he can do.  You have the possibilities of Troy Glaus and Khalil Greene returning.  If you used 13 hitters, you probably wouldn't have to worry as much about the offense either, allowing for more pinch hitting and matchup play than you have with this short bench.

Whereas the GM and manager both say that there are no better options in the system than Todd Wellemeyer.  Todd Wellemeyer has a 5.68 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP.  If there's no one better, you need to go out and find someone.  I wouldn't use Wallace for just anyone, of course, but as I've said ad nauseum, Roy Halladay would be one that I would.

6) Wallace is cheap.  When Pujols's contract comes up, you are going to need quality players that are being paid at below-market rates due to club control.  Rasmus is one of those guys.  Wallace can be another.  You don't just give him away for a guy that, even if you are going to resign him, would take millions of dollars, dollars that may mean the difference between Albert Pujols, lifetime Cardinal and Albert Pujols, New York Met.  At least if you got Halladay, you'd have him for two years and could let him walk after 2010, getting picks and saving money.  You can do that with Holliday, but instead of two playoff pushes, you get one.

This is a horrible, terrible, no-good, rotten idea and I hope that this is the only time it sees the light of day.

A Busy Day in Cardinal Nation

Posted on July 23, 2009 at 8:41 AM
Losing a game in the ninth inning is enough fodder for debate.  A trade, by itself, makes for a big day.  Put them together and you've got a lot of unrest and discussion going on in Cardinal Nation.  Let's take the game first before delving into the move of Chris Duncan to the Boston Red Sox.

Last night was a game the Cardinals really needed to win.  Having lost the first two of the series against a divisional foe that is feeling confident about a late season run, stopping the bleeding was a top priority.  Thankfully, Chris Carpenter was on the mound.  Carpenter put together eight strong innings and put the team in a great position to win.  He worked out of trouble in the seventh, though he did allow a run.  I thought they'd pull him there, but he went back out in the eighth and made quick work of the Astros.

So you've got a one-run lead in the ninth and, at least this year, that's pretty much where you want to be.  However, as happens at times, the closer got a hiccupRyan Franklin allowed two runs and the game was over.  It's really tough when you realize that Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee weren't any part of that ninth inning and Miguel Tejada could have been avoided if the Cards had executed correctly.

I wasn't able to watch the whole game, but one moment that I saw stuck out to me.  The Cards were tied at 1 in the top of the sixth when Skip Schumaker doubled to start the inning.  Next up is Colby Rasmus.  Now, I know Rasmus is in a bit of slump, though he did get a hit in this game.  For some reason, Tony LaRussa figures this is a great time to sac bunt.

Rasmus bunts, but they get Schumaker at third, and then Albert comes up and raps into a double play.  While I know that Oswalt is a dominant pitcher, what exactly is the point here?  If it works, you have a runner on third...and Albert is walked.  If you let Rasmus swing away, the most likely worst situation is a grounder to short or a strikeout, leaving Skip at second...and Albert is walked, giving you two on with one out.  More likely, Rasmus gets Skip over with a grounder or actually drives him in with a hit.  To me, it seemed like a terrible bit of managing and may have wound up costing the team the game.

The Cards now only sit one game ahead of Houston and Chicago and two ahead of Milwaukee.  After this quick stop in Washington, the Cards have to go to Philadelphia for three.  As close as this division is, they could find themselves looking up at a lot of teams very quickly.
  Continue Reading

Retiring the Colonel

Posted on July 22, 2009 at 8:27 AM
If last night was supposed to be Todd Wellemeyer pitching for his job, he didn't act like it.

I know the spin from the Cardinal manager and others is that it was a step forward, that it wasn't as bad as the line indicated, but let's be honest, it still wasn't good.  Anytime your starter can't get through the fifth, it's bad.  Anytime your starter gives up more runs than innings pitched, it's bad.  The real problem is that this isn't surprising, but the norm out of Wellemeyer in the last few months.

It heartened me to see that, according to the now-Twittering Joe Strauss, the Cardinals are still in the mix for Roy Halladay.  I've beaten the drum for him quite a bit lately, as you all know, but was afraid that John Mozeliak was just going to settle for what the team had.  The Cardinals might not get Halladay (though I think they can), but they should make some move.  There's no way you can keep running Wellemeyer out there.

Speaking of Strauss, he'll be doing his weekly chat today at 1 Central at the Post-Dispatch site.  With his Halladay news and the Tweet that Washington had scouts in Memphis last night, there should be a lot of trade talk during that tsumami of chat.

On the positive side, it was good to see some power out of Mark DeRosa.  Two home runs may mean that the wrist is well enough to play on.  Ryan Ludwick's late home run also helped the Cards get serious, but not serious enough.  Getting DeRosa healthy enough to play a regular third base can only give a boost to the lineup.  Or, if the Cards don't make a deal, maybe he moves to left and Brett Wallace finally gets the call?

UCB Radio Hour is tonight.  Yours truly will be hosting the show with Pip from Fungoes as my cohost.  I'm sure we'll talk about tonight's game, the Houston series in general, and I'm guessing Adam Dunn and Halladay might just come up.

Chris Carpenter vs. Roy Oswalt tonight.  Should be a great pitching matchup and it's a game the Cards really need to win.

Old Familiar Story

Posted on July 21, 2009 at 8:12 AM
It's like I never left.

Even as out of the loop as I've been, last night's game was a pretty familiar tune.  Good pitching, not enough offense, tough Cardinal loss.  Of course, if the Cards had been playing in a real ballpark, it might have been a rout, with Albert Pujols hitting a couple of balls that might have left some yards and Ryan Ludwick hitting one that would have cleared all fences save Minute Maid's center, unfortunately the one in question.

Hero of the night goes to Yadier Molina for driving in both runs for the Redbirds.  While we are talking positives, Kyle Lohse had a good game (save the walk to Lance Berkman and the homer to Carlos Lee) and it was great to see Rick Ankiel get two hits.  We'll have to wait and see if it was a temporary blip or the start of a resurgence, but it was good no matter which way it turns out.

I'm going to give the Goat to Nick Stavinoha, mainly for not getting on base in front of Pujols.  Don't know that it would have made any difference, but having runners on with AP up doesn't hurt the offense any, would it?

According to MLBTradeRumors.com, the four teams "kicking the tires" on Roy Halladay are the Phillies, the Brewers, the Dodgers and the Giants.  I don't see the Dodgers or Giants going all-out to get Halladay since their pitching isn't at all an issue.  The Phillies are probably pretty serious, though apparently they also have their eye on Cliff Lee.

While there is no guarantee, obviously, that Toronto would move Halladay, do we really want a repeat of last year and have the Brewers land him?  Not only that, but to have him for all of 2010 as well?  I don't know how serious their pursuit of him would be, but it has to be something that John Mozeliak thinks about.

The opportunity to have three dominant starters in a staff, coupled with a resurgent Joel Pineiro and a solid Kyle Lohse, is one of those very rare opportunities to turn your team into a top team for not just a couple of months but for another year as well.  These kind of opportunities don't come along every day.

Troy Glaus got some outfield time last night.  Apparently the throwing motion from the outfield is more condusive to what his arm can handle right now.  Reading through the story, though, makes me wonder if it is going to be worth it.  Glaus seems to be confident enough in his offense, which would be good, but how many guys are going to score from second or take extra bases on him?  Still, if nothing else, he won't have to do much to improve the offense of the team.

Apparently Joe Strauss indicated on the radio that the Cardinals are interested in Adam Dunn.  Dunn would be under contract for next year as well and, while the strikeouts might get a little frustrating, a .265 hitter with 24 home runs would look very nice behind Pujols.  I don't know what it'd take to get him and I'd still rather have Halladay, but Dunn would definitely fit in the Cardinal plan, I'd believe.

Tonight Todd Wellemeyer goes to the mound in what may be a job-saving outing.  When the most ringing endorsement is that you are the best option right now, that doesn't necessarily bode well for you.  Wellemeyer has had some success against Houston in the past, though Berkman and Lee have had their way with him.  There's a good chance there are going to be more than three runs allowed tonight.

Wandy Rodriguez goes for the 'Stros.  Rodriguez has been tough on the Cardinals in the past and has really come into his own this year.  The Cardinals did beat him in his only outing against St. Louis this year as he allowed three runs in six innings, but that was back in April when the Cards were beating everyone and scoring at a much higher rate.  Pujols has struggled against him, but Mark DeRosa's done OK against him and Chris Duncan is hitting .333 against Rodriguez, so you'll probably see an outfield of him, Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick tonight.






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Heroes
Carlos Beltran (6)
Yadier Molina (5)
Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Pete Kozma (3)
Shelby Miller (3)
Adam Wainwright (3)
Allen Craig (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Tyler Lyons (2)
Edward Mujica (2)
Jake Westbrook (2)
David Freese (1)
Joe Kelly (1)
Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
Ty Wigginton (1)

2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Goats
Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

2012
Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

2011
Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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